Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

How to Bypass Everton's Low-Block

All three of Manchester United’s goals came from bypassing Everton’s low-block, drawing them out into their own end, and then quickly attacking their back-line. Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester City should watch this before their matches.

  • vs Chelsea, December 10th
  • at Tottenham, December 23rd
  • vs Manchester City, December 27th

Those three teams have had trouble breaking down low-blocks this season.

Figure 1.1 - Everton's low-block, eight men behind the ball, against Newcastle.

Getting men behind the ball is Everton’s goal. Crowd the box. Make it hard for teams to penetrate the box. Force the opponent to cross the ball and then win the aerial duel.

You bypass this by drawing Everton out. You draw Everton out by passing the ball in your own end, dropping midfielders to drag Everton’s midfielders back, and then attack the channels. You can read more about this method in this post about Manchester City’s match against Bournemouth.

Figure 2.1 - Victor Lindelof switches to Marcus Rashford
Figure 2.2 - Marcus Rashford receives the ball and Diogo Dalot makes the run towards the corner flag.
Figure 2.3 - Diogo Dalot crosses into the box.
Figure 2.4 - Alejandro Garnacho bicycle kick.

That goal originated from a quick deep pass from Victor Lindelof. Notice where Everton’s midfielders and forwards are positioned when the ball is played. United play the ball behind Everton’s first and second line, and then waste no time in attacking their back-line.

It gives Everton no time to stack the box or block the cross. They are proficient in numbers but when you isolate their back-line they leave gaps.

Figure 3.1 - Manchester United quickly play the ball forward to Anthony Martial.
Figure 3.2 - Manchester United attack Everton's back-line, targeting the middle of the pitch.

This is the play that led to Anthony Martial’s penalty call, that resulted in a goal. Again, isolating Everton’s back-line. Everton’s center-back’s are pinned to the wingers, leaving space central.

Figure 4.1 - Everton are behind the ball and Manchester United play the ball behind their back-line.
Figure 4.2 - Manchester United 2v3 on the break.
Figure 4.3 - Marcus Rashford pins James Tarkowski. Ball is played central with two Manchester United forwards surging forward.
Figure 4.4 - Bruno Fernandes passes to Antony Martial central. Scott McTominay pins Jarrad Branthwaite to the left.
Figure 4.5 - Antony Martial is in on goal between Everton's two center-backs.

Manchester United turned this into a basketball match. Pinning the center-backs to wingers to create space central is what created the second and third goal.

This is how you score against teams like Everton. Don’t allow them to set up. If Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester City allow them to setup behind the ball, they will struggle to score.

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